Those who served our country but have fallen on hard times will get a little help to prepare for the West Texas winter.
The West Texas VA Health System will hold its annual Homeless Stand Down event Saturday at VFW Post 4372, 208 VFW Lane. The pre-winter retreat offers homeless veterans a chance to meet local social service providers, have a hot meal and participate in health screenings, while seeking ways to find shelter for the colder months.
Shad Barrows, a licensed master social worker with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Big Spring, said he believes this is the first time the Stand Down has been held in Odessa.
“What we would like to do is, every year, have it at a different site, so that all the cities in our catchment area can participate,” he said.
There are about 600 homeless veterans in the Big Spring VA’s service area, which extends from San Angelo to Hobbs, N.M., and from Fort Stockton to Abilene, Barrows said.
According to the Texas Homeless Network, there are 368 homeless residents of Ector County, with around 9 percent of those veterans.
Charles Kobes, Odessa VFW post commander, said it is important to remember all those who served.
“We try to take care of veterans,” he said. “Whether they’re homeless or not, they served our country, we might as well do what we can to help.”
Kobes said he would be interested in seeing his post, which he took over in July, host such events on a regular basis.
Joe Rickey, Ector County veterans' service officer, said the area has a number of veterans that could have problems finding jobs after returning from service.
“A lot of guys came back looking for work,” he said. “A lot of jobs were there before, but because of the economic turndown, the jobs may not be there.”